Fathers of autistic children: an interview with Tom Purser

Tom Purser is Head of Campaigns at the National Autistic Society and is also the father of an autistic child. In this interview filmed at the National Autistic Society Professional Conference in 2017, he discusses how gender stereotyping can impact on how fathers engage with support services.

Tom also gives advice to professionals on how best to support fathers of autistic children.

You can view the full interview or clips of the individual questions below.

Download a PDF transcript of this interview

Full interview

Individual interview clips

  1. Can you tell us how you first became interested in autism?
  2. Can you tell us about your current work?
  3. Can you tell us how gender stereotyping may impact on how fathers engage with support services?
  4. What barriers do fathers encounter when supporting their autistic child?
  5. As a father of an autistic child have you experienced gender stereotyping and how has this affected you personally?
  6. What can professionals do to support fathers of autistic children?

Date added 13 June 2017



Mon, 03/07/2017 - 13:59

Hi I appreciate the issues you raise in your film and just wonder if you have experienced any issues if you have had to take your child to hospital from a father's perspective? 

Wed, 05/07/2017 - 14:42

Hi Lynn,


Thanks for the feedback. When my son was younger he had to go in to hospital to have his tonsils removed. The hospital was relatively helpful in that they scheduled the surgery for first thing in the morning at a time when the ward was very quiet. They didn't seem to have much of an understanding of autism though. The overnight stay after the surgery was rather difficult but that was for many reasons.

In more recent years we've visited A&E only once with our son. There was someone in the children's A&E who was there to try and help and communicate with children with additional needs but my son was actually ok just talking to the ordinary staff.

One thing the NAS has produced to try and make the experience of hospital better is our Autism Hospital Passport which you can download at There's also lots of information on our website for health professionals.

Hope that's helpful.